Skip to main content

Full text of "The manufacture and properties of iron and steel"

See other formats

become more than an interesting experiment to be watched rather than to be copied.
SEC. XXIc.The,question of tariffs.In the minds of many of my readers this discussion will not be complete if I do not record my belief that the present condition of the American iron manufacture is solely due to the operation of the high protection system.. Let me say, therefore, that some men in the iron trade do not believe that the entire business of this country is represented by a tariff measure, just as on the other hand there are men not connected with the iron business at all who fail to appreciate that the tariff is robbing them of their last cent. During the period that high tariffs have been in force our iron industry has expanded to most wonderful proportions, but that such expansion is due to the tariff is not a necessary conclusion. That such expansion has from time to time been interrupted by periods of panic and disaster is unquestioned, but it is rash to say that such disasters are the inevitable results of protective tariffs.
It is true that American manufacturers have sometimes sold a part of their products to foreign customers at a lower price than the ruling market quotations at home, and this fact is immediately grasped and spread broadcast by petty politicians and by so-called economists, who seem always to be climbing out on the scale beam in one direction as far as they can go to balance the equally erratic high tariff promoters who are climbing the other way. Nothing can so quite keep in countenance the fallacies of fanatics as counter fallacies gravely argued. Nothing could more please the advocates of free trade than to see protectionists trying to prove that iron ore is not raw material. My mind is not broad enough to grasp all the complex conditions that surround the industrial progress of America, and I cannot see as clearly as some men that no steel would ever have been made here had it not been for certain divinely inspired orators in Congress; neither can I see as clearly as others that the nation would have been richer and greater had no duty ever been imposed on foreign manufacturers. It is possible that the reason why I cannot see so clearly is that my information is gained ' at first hand, and is not made up of partisan statements. An able and honest President of the United States publicly announced that a tariff was a tax, and that the price of an article here was the price abroad plus the tariff. If the statement concerning the price